Children's books: The Mark, The Light That Gets Lost

The Mark by Rosemary Hayes (Troika Books, €9.40) Jack, who doesn’t use his real name, has been detailed to watch out for a girl called Rachel and is not pleased when he realises that she may reveal his true identity. 

He had noticed her at school years previously as a total dropout and now regrets the task he has to perform. Soon however,the two youngsters find themselves on the run from her boyfriend Adam, who plans to use her as a sex-slave.

Jack and Rachel are polar opposites — he is intelligent and artistic, while she is both very needy and borderline mentally ill. Jack finds her dependence on him getting more irritating by the day and tries to push her towards finding a new life in London. The writer succeeds in convincing us of the strength of the developing bond between them as they desperately try to stay ahead of Adam and his gang.

The third person narrative is broken at times by backfilling of Jack and Rachel’s troubled pasts, and the tension never flags. The ending is as surprising as it is brilliant. For age 14 and up.

The Light That Gets Lost by Natasha Carthew (Bloomsbury €9.50) Sixteen-year-old Trey is on his way to Camp Kernow, an institution for troubled teenagers.

He is still gripped by an all-consuming thirst to avenge the murder of his parents and his brother, Billy, eight years previously. He had survived by hiding in a wardrobe, but the killer’s face remained etched in his memory. Shortly after his arrival he discovers that the man who killed his parents is an authority figure in this nightmare facility.

Children's books: The Mark, The Light That Gets Lost

He may as well be in prison as the fence is electrified and the guards carry guns. He has difficulty relating to the other inmates, all scarred by their own troubled pasts. But gradually he befriends eccentric Lamby and even the ultra-independent Kay, who works on the farm.

Trey’s quest for revenge leads him into perilous situations, and, when the crisis comes, he realises he will have to stand up to the more brutal teenagers.

The novel’s backward glance towards Lord of The Flies sits easily with the often lyrical and poetic language. For age 14 and up.


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